21st November – Training Day

It’s almost time.  Soon Blackcomb will be open, and the chaos of winter and holiday season will be upon us.  This means unlike the summer, we’re training people before opening.

When we head up the mountain, Maddy, Eli and I all get a surprise at opening.  We’ll be the ones training the stations entirely – I’d been assuming I’d be assisting rather than supervising entirely, but at least I’ve been assigned Mexican rather than the other stations.

I have about five new people, all of whom know each other from the bus trip here, and I’m scrambling to get ready.  I know I need to show them how to do salsa, but otherwise I’m a little lost.  Waide ends up showing me red folder which holds the recipes…and turns out this has a utensil list, which I have never seen before and dearly wish I’d know about in the summer!

So the first day of training is a little scrambled, with me showing the new girls how to make both the corn and tomato salsas, while Waide and the other supervisors take over soup since I have no clue how to work that.

All things consider, it goes pretty well.  I have a girl with actual restaurant experience on my team, and the rest of them are good at picking things up, so by the end of the day, I’m pretty sure they’ll handle tomorrow well.  We’ll be doing a soft open for employees only, and I’m confident.

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20th November – Board Day

Yesterday I got my board waxed, and today I headed to the bottom of Whistler Mountain for my first snowboard lesson.  I’m in a large staff group, and our teacher is an older gentleman.  He’s nice enough, but very into yoga and the spiritual aspects of snowboarding, and it’s a bit much for me to take.

We start on the bottom of the hill so we can learn how to move the board without removing it entirely, which is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever had to do.  It’s such an awkward position, you’re foot is begging to turn around, and you’re struggling with the balance the whole time.  No clue how I’ll ever master this.

Once everyone at least has the theory down, we head up the chairlift to the training area, and I get my first attempt at running the tube tunnel to the shorter training area.  There’s more powder here, and less people, so it’s a good place to work on the basics.

I was hoping my experience in wakeboarding would give me some advantage, but as it turns out, it’s more of a hindrance.  For snowboarding, most of your weight needs to be on your front foot, whereas with wakeboarding and martial arts, most of the weight stays on the back.  The only times that are similar are when you’re turning, then your weight gets thrown back on your heels…unless you’re doing a toe turn, which I cannot wrap my head around just yet.

Eventually we head up to the main training area, which is a lot more compacted.  For all people warn about powder snow, the compacted is a lot more dangerous – you can go faster, and if you come onto it after powder, it’ll catch you off guard.  More people get injured on the ‘safe’ slopes than you’d think because of it.

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18th November – Look Before You Leap

I want to get out and try to practice skiing, but the queue for the gondola is still long due to the locals, so I head out around 10am for the bunny slopes.

At first, everyone goes really well.  I’m turning and speeding down the hill without any real effort.  After an hour, most of the slope is getting taken over by students, and one of the staff on the magic carpet tells me I should maybe try one of the green runs at the top of Whistler.  I’m feeling super confident, so decide to give the Upper Whisky Jack a shot.

My first warning was when I got to the top of Whistler and find a vicious wind beating everything down.  I don’t have goggles (the bunny slope doesn’t really need them), and the snow is super hard because of it, but I press on.

It takes me about 2 minutes to realise just how big a mistake I’ve made.  There’s two awful crashes, one that takes my poles halfway down the slope, and another that literally rips my gloves from my hands and needs someone to help me up.  It does not take me long to weigh up my options, and make the humiliating walk up the tiny amount of run I’ve made to flee back to the bunny slopes.

My confidence is completely shot to ribbons.  Think I’ll need another lesson before I want to try my luck again.  Course I’m also planning a snowboarding lesson beforehand, so that might not help.

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17th November – Happy Opening Day

Let it begin!

We’ve had a strange kind of weather in the last few weeks, but the main point is we have snow, and Whistler has been opened a week early.  Not all the lifts are running, and Blackcomb will be opening on schedule, but the locals are coming out in full force.  I have to go to the post office early, and I manage to gape at the line that goes all the way to the Grocery Store in the middle village.

I also see the lesson tents setting up, and decide to try my luck.  I know we get free lessons, but nobody is certain when they begin.  As it turns out, neither do the instructors, but I’m told if I show up in 15 minutes, I can join the day lesson.  There’s no way I can get ready in that time (it’ll take me that long just to get up staff hill again), but if I show up at 12:30, I can join the half day lesson, which I do.

I end up in a group with just two other people, one of which joins later.  My Instructor is a man named Dick, who starts us with basics like getting the stupid things on, and learning how to turn and pull yourself along with your poles, before letting us try a very small hill/ramp to see how we control.  I’ve had approximately 2 lessons over 15 years ago, but more of it comes back to me than you’d think, so I quickly outpace the others, and Dick leaves the other students with the other teacher to give me some one on one teaching.

We have to head up the bunny hill, which is at Olympic Station, the best place for learners in Whistler.  Rather than a chairlift, there is a magic carpet, which is basically a rolling floor upwards.  Takes several minutes to get to the top, and it stops regularly, but it gets you to a decent height with a hill to work with – you just have to watch from above since other, more advanced trails finish on the learners hill.

All things considered, I was picking things up very well.  After 3 hours, I was linking my turns and controlling my speed with a lot of ease.  Dick figures that with some more practice and another lesson and I’ll be able to handle the green routes.  Planning to head out tomorrow while I still have free time to try my luck.  Here’s hoping my snowboarding adventures are just as successful.

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24th October – Train Wreck Hike

Last week, I delayed myself to a point that I did absolutely nothing with my time off, and the one day I tried, ended up bucketing down with rain.  This week I was determined to change that – there’s no guarantee the weather will stay nice considering the snowfall we had earlier, so I need to get through the last of the hikes while I have the chance.  This morning, I’m out of the house by 9, in Cheakamus Crossing by 9:30, and begin the Train Wreck Hike.

This is one of the newest hikes in Whistler, and it has some history.  The train wreck has been a must-see attraction in Whistler almost since the crash, but up until last year, getting to it was ‘technically’ illegal, because you could only get to it by crossing the train tracks since it was blocked in by a river, and the railway.  When it became clear that stopping people from visiting, the council figured out a solution – create an easy hike from Cheakamus Crossing, with a brand new suspension bridge over Cheakamus River, which makes it possible to visit without breaking the law.


The wreck consists of several rail cars that crashed over forty years ago when a train sped through an area undergoing repairs.  For some it poses a mystery, given that the cars are over 150 yards away from the railway line, yet didn’t damage a single one of the trees around them.  In reality – the train crashed and blocked the railway line, and loggers were brought in with their equipment, who dragged the cars into the forest to leave them to the elements.  There was a joke when they first crashed that they were a cheap option for staying in Whistler, but now they’re mostly known for the graffiti art covering them head to toe.  There’s also a bike park, with railings and landings for more experienced bikers (although when I visited, most of it looked decrepit).


I’m here so early, that I have the entire area to myself, and it’s immediately obvious why so many people were drawn here.  The contrast between the cars and the forest is urban fantasy at its best.  You can still see the dents and buckling from the crash behind the paint, but the outsides are still in great condition – some of them you can climb up the ladders and clamber onto the roofs…then you step inside the car and see the rotting wooden boards.  When I summoned the courage to go in, I swear I was hearing voices and had to bolt out.  Most likely it was just the wood creaking, but still had me shivering.


Most of the cars are collected in the same area near the river, but if you head South, you’ll find two in really bad condition – probably the main casualties in the crash, hoarding together not too far from the river rapids.  I can hear them long before I see them, and getting there requires some risky navigation (learning the hard way the boots I bought for winter are not great for hiking in the wet), but it must be a popular place to visit, cause there’s even a bench here.  Sadly, you can’t really see the rapids properly, due to the location of the rocks – this combined with my height issues and my non-confidence in my shoes mean I don’t want to get too close to the edge.  There are no safety barriers here.

It hasn’t taken nearly as long to get here as I expected, and I know there are more walks and hikes around here – and I can sort of see one winding through the forest against the river, so decide to check it out.  What I get is a quiet and calm hour just wandering around the forest, while the weather decides to become even better than I expected.  Even my jacket ends up in my bag as I start sweating.


However, I do find myself having to walk over the train tracks to keep walking, and suddenly make it to the highway.  Not my plan at all.  However, there’s a different trail that will head back towards the train wreck, called ‘runaway train’ – so I head along that.  It’s a lot more gruelling than my wandering so far, because most of what I was walking on felt more like a country road, while this is less a path and more ‘where a bunch of other people have walked through recently.’  It still takes a good hour and a half to make my way back though, especially since a lot of this route is uphill for me.  So, when I make it back to the train cars, there’s a lot more people wandering around, and I figure I have two choices.  Head back to Cheakamus and explore the area…or head along the ‘old’ route to the rail cars and go visit Function Junction since I’m near the area.  Decide trekking the old route is my best option…mainly because I’d been told it wasn’t that far.

This was clearly blatant lies.  I was figuring it was a half hour walk – but twenty minutes later it’s clear I’m not even halfway there.  However, I have stumbled across Cheakamus Falls, which are stunning.


My biggest frustration is I CAN’T get closer, because my shoes just cannot get grip and I’m not trusting them on the ledges.  It’s a quiet beauty compared to the brashness of the cars.

As I keep going further along, the path becomes awkward to track – I’m dependent on blue ribbon hanging from trees to keep me on track, right up until I find the river cutting my trek off.  I have to emerge from the forest and walk along the train track in order to get to the other side.  Along the way I run into some girls who are walking along the track rather than the forest, and give me some directions.  Thankfully I spot some blue tags in the forest and descend once again.  About 20 minutes later (and some stunningly beautiful river spots), the path intentionally moves towards the railway line, even with arrows spray painted on rocks.  When I get out, there’s even spray paint on the tracks – clearly previous hikers have made sure people know how to get where they go – and head across.


Ten minutes later sees me wandering under the highway bridge, and a much easier walk.  Soon enough, I’m finally spotting Function Junction, and hit up the Re-Use-It Centre before I head home.  Was planning to find something for Halloween…but instead I find a slow cooker.  I’ve been after one of these for weeks, so it’s in my basket even as I leave the costume rack empty handed.  Also grab another pot since we could really use one, and medium sized pots with lids are gold dust in Whistler.

Tomorrow I’m back to work, but at least I’ve done something with my time off today.

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18th October – Winter is Coming

Recently we’ve been getting warnings that there’s a giant snowstorm stretching from China all the way to Canada, and snow might be showing up a lot sooner than expected.  Certainly, doesn’t look it today, it’s so warm (if admittedly wet) I forgo my winter boots and socks for lighter ones, so I don’t overheat.

Today I’m working with a whopping 3 other guys, although we’ll only be working together in the morning before I head off to finish detailing the cabin (which I’d started the week before) and they go deep clean some of the larger buildings.  However, while we’re in the middle of doing a bin check all the way in Creekside, it starts to snow.  And it doesn’t stop.


When I get to the Cabin, there’s nearly an inch on the ground.  Two hours later, it’s closer to three, and we have to go finish up another area at the Daylodge – which means my feet are freezing.  Thankfully the guys let me go back to my flat and change my shoes before we move to our next area – I’m now detailing the Financial Building, a building I honestly didn’t even know existed until now, crazy considering it’s almost right next door to staff accommodation.

Although I do a lot of dusting (and I mean a lot – apparently this department lost a lot of people during the Vail buyout and most of the desks haven’t been touched in months), my eyes are mostly focuses on cleaning windows and blinds, because it means I can keep an eye on the snow.  It hasn’t stopped since ten this morning, and it’s causing chaos all over the place.  Even when we were driving up the hill, the problems were all over – buses were completely stuck, and all the trees – still covered in leaves – were leaning over the roads since they couldn’t stand up with the sheer weight of the snow.  Two cars have already been damaged at Westside accommodation thanks to falling branches.

Thankfully, at just after 3, it finally stops…and turns to rain.  When the guys pick me up at 5, it looks like the worst is over.  I’m just hoping it stays gone and thaws out so I can get the weather to go hiking on my days off.

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2nd October – Spruce it Up!

One of our roommates has left for good, and she’s taken the good weather with her.  The temperature is dropping very quickly, and we’re starting to feel it in the apartment.  It’s also getting darker at nights, and the light in our flat is utterly hopeless.  So, in order to fix this, I decide to order some things to brighten the place up.  Online, I grab some couch covers and a rug, and in town, I decide I need a new table for my tv (and a place to put my roommate’s portable oven), and a floor lamp so we can finally get some light in the main part of our living room (our light barely covers 20% of the main room).

The best option is the Re-Build-It Centre which is the furniture equivalent of the Re-Use-It Centre, but I need a ride.  Thankfully, when I mentioned this at work, a co-worker was happy to help me out, offering his car for today.

What I’m really looking for is a kind of tv unit and a tall lamp.  The tall lamp is easier than the first, here are plenty.  The biggest issue is finding one that’s cheap – I end up grabbing one that requires a very specific bulb, which means I can’t test it.  Ends up not working and having to pay a friend with a car to take it back for an exchange, grabbing a normal bulb lamp instead.  Instead of a tv unit, I grab a table with multiple shelves underneath.  Not exactly what I was looking for, but it’s only $20 and I think I’ll be able to work around it.

Now I just need my online stuff to arrive before our new roommates do so I can turn this place into a nice flat rather than just bland accommodation.

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